You often hear how important it is to look at a person or company’s history before hiring, investing, etc., and although it is crucial, it is also crucial to do more than look superficially. Conversely, just looking superficially can cause significant damage and lead you into a bad decision.
Using track record when hiring
Probably the most important factor when considering a candidate is what they have previously done in their career. While a weak candidate can shine for a day of interviews and a great candidate may not be good in an interview environment, what a person has done previously in their career is a strong indicator of what they can do for you.
The challenge is how to analyze a person’s track record. If you look on LinkedIn, 90 percent of people are all in the top 10 percent. In some cases (though I have found it rare among candidates for senior positions), people lie about their prior roles and achievements. This issue is easy to uncover; you just need to ensure you do your due diligence on background and reference checks. The one caveat is not to rely on the references that you are given, as almost anyone can find three or four people (often friends) that will say good things about them. You need to dig deeper, for key positions and achievements figure out who they reported to or worked with, then reach out directly to those people (I usually use LinkedIn) to get the real story.
The other key element of checking candidates’ track records is understanding their true roles on the major achievements they tout. Continue reading “Look closely at track record, with the emphasis on closely”
Finding strong members for your team is one of the most important skills needed to succeed and a recent Harvard Business Review article, “21st Century Talent Spotting” by Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, provides some strong insights on how to optimize your talent search. With skills and competencies now the key to finding employees, rather than past experience, you must become skilled at judging potential. This situation is exacerbated by the rapidly changing nature of the tech and game spaces, what worked yesterday are not necessarily the skills you need today.
In the last millennium, workers were selected for physical attributes which readily translated into higher success at physical labor, from building a canal to fighting a war. Business then evolved to judge candidates on intelligence, experience and past performance. Much work was standardized, so if you were looking for an engineer or an accountant or a CEO, you would find somebody who has already succeeded in such a role and there was a high likelihood they would replicate this success. Then hiring evolved to the competency model, which stipulated that managers (and other workers) be evaluated on specific characteristics and skills that would help predict outstanding performance in the roles for which they were being hired. Hiring managers would decompose jobs into competencies and look for candidates with the best combination of these skills. Continue reading “How to find talented employees”
I have written several blog posts on how Bayes’ Rule can help you make better business decisions and application of this theorem. One of the areas where Bayes’ Rule is most often neglected is in hiring decisions. Often, rational and data driven individuals and organizations abandon the rules of optimal decision-making and rely on intuition.
At its core, Bayes’ Rule shows how you can optimize the chance of a correct decision by looking at previous data points that encompass the decision you are trying to make. In the case of hiring, this analysis would be more effective by looking at the metrics and data that shows who succeeds, looking at what makes someone successful in the position you are hiring for and reducing the impact of data that does not lead to good hiring decisions.
What most companies end up doing is using data as a filter but then hiring based on intuition. If you really want to make good decisions, you need to understand your intuition is only one (weak) data point and base the decision on Bayes’ Theorem, using past data to make the optimal decision.
What has worked for others
First, look at the position you are hiring for and identify the most successful people (at other companies or at your’s) in the field and “reverse engineer” their background. What experience(s) did they have before they were hired? What is their educational background (school, degree, extra curricular activities, etc.)? Using Bayes’ Rule, if you are hiring for a Director of Social Media and find that 90 percent of the top performing Directors of Social Media went to Texas A&M, then the chances of making a good hire from Texas Tech is already at less than 10 percent. Continue reading “Bayes’ Theorem Part 6: Making the best hiring choices”